What you should expect from the exam cramming challenge

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Although the rules and format of the “Exam cramming” challenge are already explained on this page, we thought that some additional precisions and examples could be useful before you try it out for the first time.

As you’ve read, the exam is divided into 5 sections: geography, history, foreign languages, identification and alternative science. You will have to remember 10 random facts in each of those sections. Competitors in the Advanced section will also be presented with a few bonus questions. 15 minutes in total for memorization, 20 minutes for recall. Only competitors in the Regular section will be shown multiple possible choices during recall. Competitors in the Advanced section will have to remember everything directly.

Just to be clear, many of the examples below were taken from the real world simply because they are less time-consuming to produce. However, that’s not the case in the sample discipline we provide and that won’t be the case in any of the exams that will be used in competition.

What to expect from the geography and alternative science sections:

In the geography section, you will be shown a regular (but fictitious) map with a bunch of white or black circles on it. Ten of those circles will be named. For each of those two sections, you will have to remember the names of 10 elements along with their location.

Here’s what geography might look like:


And here’s what you could be shown during recall:

Every circle is a possible location for an element. In this case. there are 16 circles (this is Poland by the way). In the exam, there might be 20 or 25 and the map or the image you’ll be studying might be more complex. A correct name paired with an incorrect location isn’t worth anything. A correct name along with the correct location is worth 2 points. 1.5 points if the name you wrote sounds exactly the same as the correct one but you made a spelling mistake (“Silessian” instead of “Silesian”). 0 point if the name you wrote is very similar but it still sounds different (“Wormian” instead of “Warmian“).

Only competitors in the Regular section will be shown possible answers during recall. 10 of those will be wrong while 10 will be correct if you can pair them with the correct locations. Here those possible answers might look like this:

Possible answers: Opiodia / Silesian / Sileks / Warmian / Cullal / Lodz / Lublin / Podlaskie / Masovian / Lubusz / Pomeranian / Kuyavian / Parmasian / Lapizs / Pitlosk / Labine / Musavon / Opole / Purdos

The wrong answers will often sound a little similar to the correct ones (“Sileks” versus “Silesian”), but the difference should be clear enough if your memory of the word isn’t completely blurry.

The alternative science section will work similarly to what we just saw, but you won’t be shown a regular map. Instead you will be shown some kind of picture, diagram or unusual map and you will again have to remember the names and locations of 10 different sections or parts or objects. For example we might show you some kind of cartoonish robot and ask you to remember the names and locations of 10 of its mechanical parts. Or you might see a fictitious sky map and have to remember the names and locations of 10 constellations or celestial objects. You won’t know in advance the exact nature of what you will have to remember here, but the basic principle will always remain the same.

What to expect from the foreign language section:

You will be shown 10 foreign words along with the translations. It might look like this:

Cheka – Laugh
Kuona – See
Njoo – Come
Mbali – Away
Rembo – Beautiful
Ngumu – Difficult
Jambo – Hello
Asante – Thank you
Hapana – No
Jumatatu – Monday

You will have to remember the 10 foreign (Swahili in this example) words you previously memorized and write them next to their correct English translations. 20 English words will be shown during recall. In this case. recall might look like this:

You’ve only seen 10 of those words before. If you give more than 10 answers, we will only correct the first 10.

Once again competitors in the Regular section will be shown 20 possible answers: 10 wrong answers and 10 possibly correct answers. It might look like this:

Possible answers: hapana / mguu / Kichwa / jumatatu / Tumbo / ngumu / mkono / samaki / maji / mei / asante / rembo / mgongo / cheka / jambo / mbali / Ljumaa / kuona / nzuri / njoo

What to expect from the history section:

You will be shown 10 fictitious historical dates. Since all those dates will be in the same century, it means you will only have 2 digits to remember per date. What you’ll have to remember may look like this:

And here’s what you might see during recall:

Again if you write down more than 10 answers, we will only correct the first 10.

Competitors in the Regular section will be shown 20 possible dates:

Possible answers: 2264 / 2239 / 2241 / 2235 / 2290 / 2250 / 2259 / 2293 / 2208 / 2218 / 2221 / 2212 / 2222 / 2216 / 2245 / 2234 / 2238 / 2248 / 2225 / 2261 / 2234

Competitors in the Regular section who have a system for memorizing numbers will be allowed to, if they want, print it out on a regular 8.5 by 11 inches sheet (front side of the sheet only) and use that sheet during both the memorization and recall periods. Competitors in the Regular section who don’t have such a system will have the option to use one of the sample number systems that we will be providing.

Competitors in the Advanced section who won’t be shown any possible answer will also have to remember the century, but they will only have to remember that fact once. In the example above, you would briefly notice that all 10 events happened in the 23rd century, and then you would focus on the last 2 digits for each event.

What to expect from the identification section:

This section is a little bit similar to the names and faces challenge. You will be shown 10 pictures along with 10 names that you will have to remember. You won’t know in advance what the pictures will be showing, but you know that it won’t be human faces. Will it be different types of plants, cats, mechanical parts, sculptures, lamps? Who knows? During recall you will be shown 20 pictures and you will have to correctly identify and name the 10 pictures that you’ve memorized before. Again if you write down more than 10 answers, we will only correct the first 10. Competitors in the Regular section will be shown 20 possible answers to choose from.

What you should expect for the bonus questions:

Competitors in the Advanced section will be shown a few more difficult bonus questions. It might be something like “4 points if you can remember this quote: ….” The problem is that for each bonus question you have to remember everything perfectly or you won’t get any point. Spelling mistakes might be treated with clemency, but nothing else will. It’s usually not a good strategy to focus on the bonus questions if you haven’t first learned most of the rest correctly.

Where and how to practice this event:

  • A few sample Exams can be found on this page.
  • This is an unorthodox event that is designed to put everyone, even Advanced competitors, a little bit off balance and out of their comfort zone. And since it doesn’t exist anywhere else, apart from the few sample disciplines linked above, it’s a little bit hard to really train specifically for this event. But there are various creative ways you can use to train in indirectly. Here are a few suggestions that you can try.
  • You can choose to practice the classic “historic dates” memory discipline. Just go to www.standard-memory.com, click on “5 min Historic Dates”, study the sheet for 5 minutes (or more, or just 1 or 2 minutes if you prefer) using something else as a timer. Then click on “Recall online” to enter your answers and see your results. Just remember that in the Exam, the dates you’ll be asked to remember will be only 2-digit long (the “48” in 2048 for example).
  • You can take a bunch of random words, avoid looking at them and use either Google Translate or this awesome free translation service to translate them all in Dutch of something. Try to memorize everything quickly, then try to see if you can correctly remember the Dutch (or whatever) translations for each.
  • You can use the Azgaar’s Fantasy Map Generator to quickly make your own fake maps. Have fun experimenting with all the possible different configurations offered.
  • You can develop your memorization skills in a more general manner by trying out all kinds of real-world memory challenges. You can learn all the provinces of Brazil or India, learn some of the most common words in different languages, memorize lesser-known historical dates, learn the names of the human bones, learn to recognize different types of birds and so on. You can choose to memorize only for the short-term as an exercise. Or you can use spaced-repetition for everything that you want to remember long-term.